Congo: 100 Years of Franciscan Presence (1920-2020)

 

The Congolese friars are celebrating 100 years of Franciscan presence in Congolese territory. Since 1920, missionaries of different nationalities and origins (Belgians, Croatians, Americans, Poles, etc.) have gradually brought the message of St Francis of Assisi to the largest country in Africa, in different periods and contexts, and have implanted the Order there. First the Belgians in 1920 in what was then Katanga, then in Kasai, and later on, in the 1970s, the Croatians in Kivu. From these three centres, Franciscanism later spread to other parts of the country and beyond. Today, one hundred years later, the Democratic Republic of Congo has about 350 local friars in two provinces. From Congo, the friars see themselves called today to “give back the gift of the Gospel” all over the world (Belgium, Bosnia, Canada, Congo Brazzaville, Croatia, France, Guinea, Italy, Morocco, Mozambique, Central African Republic, Senegal, Holy Land, Turkey, United States). The celebration of this centenary of thanksgiving has taken place throughout the year 2020 in the context of the pandemic that has reduced the main activities planned in the various areas to a minimum: solemn opening on 16 February 2020 in Kanzenze, the place of arrival and burial of the first Belgian missionaries. The closing of the centenary will take place next May, in Kolwezi.

Br Pascal Lushuli, OFM